A raging fire that tore through the Notre Dame Cathedral in central Paris has been brought under control with the bell towers intact.
The building lost its towering spire and most of its roof, wiping out centuries of priceless heritage central to French culture and history.
Thankfully a large number of relics including Christs crown of thorns and St Louis tunic have been saved.
This morning pictures have been emerging showing the main structure of the cathedral is still standing.
The sight of the internationally recognised building without its roof will be devastating to many people around the world, but there is hope that the majority of the building has been saved.
French President Emmanuel Macron vowed to rebuild the cathedral described as the soul of the nation and expressed relief that the worst had been avoided in a blaze that had at one point threatened the entire edifice.
Thousands of Parisians and tourists watched in horror from nearby streets cordoned off by the police as flames engulfed the building and officials tried to save as much as they could of the cathedrals countless treasures, built up over centuries.
The inferno destroyed the roof of the 850-year-old UNESCO world heritage landmark, whose spectacular Gothic spire collapsed as orange flames and clouds of grey smoke billowed into the early evening sky.
Around 400 firefighters battled into the night to control the flames, declaring in the early hours of Tuesday that it was partially extinguished but completely under control, around nine hours after it broke out.
Paris fire brigade chief Jean-Claude Gallet said we can consider that the main structure of Notre-Dame has been saved and preserved as well as the two bell towers.
But the whole of the roof has been devastated… a part of the vault has collapsed, the spire is no more, fire brigade spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Gabriel Plus said.
Laurent Nunez, state secretary at the interior ministry, told reporters early Tuesday that with the immediate danger of the fire over, the focus would be on assessing the damage to the buildings structure.
Nunez said officials would meet shortly to see if the building was stable enough to allow fire services to go inside.
Notre-Dame survived all the wars, all the bombardments. We never thought it could burn. I feel incredibly sad and empty, Stephane Seigneurie, a consultant who joined other shocked onlookers in a solemn rendition of Ave Maria as they watched the fire from a nearby bridge.
Gasps and cries of Oh my god erupted around an hour after the fire first broke out when the top portion of the churchs spire came crashing down.
We have been dealt a knockout blow, a stricken-looking Paris Archbishop Michel Aupetit told reporters.
The cause of the blaze was not immediately clear, but the cathedral had been undergoing intense restoration work which the fire service said could be linked to the blaze.
French prosecutors said it was being currently being treated as an accident.